Revealed: NHS secretly wooed private firms over polyclinics

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories, Polyclinics, Providers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Pulse | By Steve Nowottny | 7 October 2009

Exclusive: The NHS secretly courted private companies at a series of high-level meetings to encourage them to compete for the new wave of polyclinics and GP-led health centres, Pulse can reveal.

Directors, chief executives and other senior figures from a who’s who of private health providers were invited to regular off-the-record briefings, held every six weeks, to get their advice on tendering and procurement of GP-led health centres and London’s polyclinics.

Details of the meetings, at which no minutes were taken, emerged only this week after Pulse successfully won a nine-month appeal under the Freedom of Information Act.

Attendees included Atos Consulting, Assura Group, Care UK and Alliance Boots (see below).

The last in the series of meetings, which were hosted by NHS London and designed to reassure the private sector about the Government’s commitment to opening up the market, was attended by then-health minister Lord Darzi, as well as UBS Bank, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Dr David Bennett, whose former roles include head of policy at Number 10 and at influential management consultancy McKinsey.

Companies invited to the meetings subsequently bid for and won contracts for dozens of GP-led health centres around the country and have been among those bidding for London’s centres, although NHS London is refusing to reveal how many they have won.

But a briefing prepared for Lord Darzi ahead of the last meeting on 19 August 2008 reveals: ‘This group of private sector CEOs and senior officials meets roughly every six weeks… to discuss concerns of the private sector market in general but specifically issues relating to London polyclinics and how London is handling GP-led health centres.

‘It is now a forum for the market to offer opinions and advice in the run-up to tendering and procurement of primary care services through both models.’

The briefing adds that one function of the meetings is to ensure the NHS is aware of the confidence required to ensure City backing for any ‘ventures’ in primary care.

‘Lord Darzi will be aware the City has grown deeply sceptical about markets in health given the reversal of much of the wave two independent sector treatment centre procurement,’ the report adds.

LMCs responded angrily to news of the meetings, pointing out that GPs had not been invited to similar meetings.

Dr Michelle Drage, joint chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said: ‘We’ve had our suspicions but it confirms everything we thought must be going on. It stinks – it’s appalling.’

Dr Drage said Londonwide LMCs had found it impossible to organise meetings with NHS London at a similar level to the private sector briefings.

‘I’ve had one such meeting in the past year, with the chief executive,’ she said.

Dr Nigel Watson, chair of the GPC subcommittee on commissioning and service development, said: ‘To brief them like this is blatant and seems very strange when everyone is talking about level playing fields.’

And Dr Sally Whittet, a GP in Lambeth, south London, added: ‘This is wrong. It goes against my idea of the NHS.’

However a Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The accusation that private companies were ‘secret wooed’ is simply untrue. We have repeatedly made clear that in setting up GP health centres PCTs are expected to carry out an open and transparent procurement to ensure the fullest range of providers can bid including existing GP practices, voluntary and independent sector providers.’

He added: ‘Lord Darzi spent a year working on his review of the NHS and engaged with over 60,000 people – the majority of whom were frontline NHS staff, patients and members of the public. However, given their interests in the future direction of the NHS this also included private sector healthcare providers.


• Alliance Boots
• Atos Consulting 
• Assura Group 
• Ashley House 
• Care UK
• General Healthcare Group 
• HCA International 
• Nuffield Hospitals 
• PWC 

The documents that revealed secret meetings between NHS and private sector

Pulse reveals today details of a series of high-level meetings held last year between senior figures in the NHS and leading private sector companies last year.

Read the Department of Health’s final response to Pulse here.

Read the briefing note prepared for Lord Darzi ahead of the meeting on 19 August 2008 here.

Read the full list of meeting attendees here.

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Ashley House

Posted on August 5, 2009. Filed under: Providers | Tags: |

Ashley House | History & Background | accessed 5 August 2009

Ashley House plc developed its first primary care project in 1991 and is now a national organization and a recognised innovator in tailored solution service development. Ashley House has created, in close consultation with its clients, a comprehensive range of construction related services relevant to todays ever changing healthcare environment.

To achieve this Ashley House is organised into five separate divisions.

Traditional Third Party Developer work
With an in-house Team of professionals, we have completed over 200 primary care projects.

Health Parks
These involve the co-location of various health related buildings and care accommodation creating improved patient pathways leading to cost savings for the NHS.

Ashley House plc appointed by DoH as one of only 7 private sector partners able to undertake new Express LIFT work.

Asset Management 
AH Medical Properties plc is our associated medical property investment company. To date the company has acquired circa £100m of assets which are managed by Ashley House.

Clinical Services was created in response to the latest NHS guidelines, on the continued devolvement of services. Our approach is to offer true partnering arrangements with clinicians wishing to provide a wide range of clinical services whilst Ashley House provides capital, business expertise, clinical modelling and infrastructure.

By incorporating modern building techniques with innovative and flexible designs we produce facilities that are purpose built to meet today’s needs whilst retaining flexibility for adaptation in the future.

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Bracknell HealthSpace launch

Posted on July 24, 2009. Filed under: LIFT, Press/News Releases, Providers | Tags: |

Berkshire East PCT | Press Releases | 24 July 2009

NHS Berkshire East has identified the company it wants to work with to develop detailed plans for the Bracknell ‘HealthSpace’.

Demands for a new health facility in the centre of Bracknell offering an extended range of health services was one of the key themes to emerge from the local public consultation process known as Right Care, Right Place which finished last year.

The HealthSpace is planned for Market Street and will form a key part of the town centre regeneration.

The Ashley House / G4S Integrated Services consortium was selected by the Board of NHS Berkshire East at its meeting in public on 23 April. Ashley House will take on the status of ‘preferred partner’ with facilities and services to be developed by G4S Integrated Services. Work will now focus on developing detailed plans for the building.

The decision follows extensive evaluation by a panel which included a local GP, councillor and patient representative. They looked in detail at four shortlisted proposals after 30 expressions of interest were received.

The HealthSpace will bring a wide range of services closer to home for many people. These will include urgent care, GP services, physiotherapy, specialist appointments with visiting hospital consultants and a whole range of scans and other diagnostic tests.

NHS Berkshire East Chairman Sally Kemp said: “This is a real milestone in our plans to offer an extended range of health services from 21st century facilities in the heart of Bracknell.”

Councillor Dale Birch, Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing for Bracknell Forest Council, who took part in the evaluation process, said: “This is a very positive step forward for the residents of Bracknell Forest and I welcome the Board’s decision. I think they have listened very carefully to residents and key stakeholders.

“The Council and residents have long been vocal in their support for our own healthspace in the town centre with a range of locally relevant services including urgent care and GP services so that people won’t have to travel long distances for care.”

– ENDS –

Further information: 
Martin Leaver, Communications, NHS Berkshire East   Tel. 01235 553091 / 07966 174 183 

Peter Juster, Ashley House   Tel. 01628 600354 

Notes to editors: 

Ashley House plc developed its first primary care project in 1991 and is now a national organisation and a recognised innovator in development and premises solutions with over 200 completed projects. Ashley House has created, in close consultation with its clients, a comprehensive range of funding, design and construction services relevant to today’s ever changing healthcare environment. 

As well as being the development arm for 7 NHS Local Improvement Fund Trust (LIFT) companies, Ashley House plc (as part of Odyssey Healthcare) is also on the framework for the new Express LIFT procurement process. This has been achieved by incorporating modern building techniques with innovative and flexible designs and producing facilities that are purpose built to meet today’s needs whilst retaining flexibility for adaptation in the future. 

William Wells (Chairman) said: 
‘This is a very important and exciting project both for NHS Berkshire East in delivering their Right Care, Right Place agenda and as a catalyst for the regeneration programme of Bracknell town centre. 

‘We are grateful and delighted to have been selected and look forward to working with NHS Berkshire East and various user groups in achieving a flagship building and a beacon for health and social care provision.’ 

G4S Integrated Services is a division of G4S, UK and Ireland and is an international leader in providing critical primary and support services for both the public sector and corporate organisations on three continents.

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